Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Principles of the U.S. Constitution

What makes the United States unique isn't who's president or which party is in control of Congress. Rather, it's the principles set forth in the U.S. Constitution focusing on individual rights. There is no place in this document for restricting the rights of American citizens, whether it's slavery, gay marriage, or prohibition. And, it's too easy for a large organization, such as the government or a person in power, to abuse our constitutional rights.

I cringe when I hear American leaders, especially flag officers in uniform, say that their primary duty is to protect the United States. Protecting America is part of their job. But that's not their primary responsibility as laid out in their oath of office: "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." A federal law enforcement officer may think it's okay to monitor a phone call of a suspected terrorist, who is an American citizen, for the greater good. But, without following the proper legal procedures, this is, by definition, a violation of the Constitution.

Principles vs. Values

In life we have principles and values. Principles are fundamental ideas that don't change. We manifest principles in the form of values. Our values can change depending on the situation, but the underlying principles do not change.

A good example of the difference between values and principles is the difference between a map and the lay of the land. A consumer, surveyor, and pilot may all use maps, but each requires a different type of map such as Google Maps for roads, surveyor maps for contour lines, or an aeronautical chart for mountains, towers and airports. As long as your values represent the underlying principles, you have harmony. Wrong map for the wrong place and you've got a problem.

A more abstract, yet practical, example of principles vs. values is marriage. Most every culture in the world has a principle concept of marriage. But, how that's implemented, in the form of values is different. Some marriages are strictly between one man and one woman, some are between one man and several women, simultaneously, and some marriages are between people of the same gender. Same principle, different values.

The U.S. Constitution spells out our principles and our laws codify them as our values.  It is never acceptable to protect our country while harming our Constitution.

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